Traffic Light

Zhang Sanjian 2022-04-08 19:00


I am a pedestrian traffic light on the sidewalk.

The green light signals to go. When it starts counting down, I flash to urge pedestrians to quicken their pace. The red light indicates danger and prohibits crossing. However, occasionally some pedestrians or vehicles defy the rules and force their way through. I cast them an angry glance, though they may not know or simply don’t care. To those who abide by the traffic rules, I offer my thanks and goodwill.

I’m different from the high-up traffic lights, hehe! I don’t have a yellow light.


Across from me stand several sycamore trees. Although we cannot communicate, I consider them my little companions.

It’s because of them that I understand the changing climate and the transition of the seasons.

In spring, the tree trunks sprout new branches; in summer, they bloom with light yellow-green flowers and release fluffy catkins, causing passersby to sneeze uncontrollably. Autumn brings slowly yellowing leaves, and occasionally a gust of wind blows them to my feet. During winter, we watch over each other, bracing against the cold, looking forward to the return of spring.

In the midst of the bustling crowd, I learned that behind me lies a bank guarded by two stone lions at its entrance. People coming out of the bank are always talking about something called ‘money.’ I don’t quite understand it, but it seems to be quite important to them. The funniest part is those two stone lions, always arguing about who is the ‘primary face’ of the bank.

Do you ask if I have any good friends? Of course, the streetlight above me is my closest buddy. Every nightfall, he wakes up, and we start our all-night-long talks.

Suddenly, one day, the street was empty. Not even cars whizzing past were seen.

Everything was so quiet; even the usual bustle around me disappeared.

Where did all the people go? I don’t know. I remain the same, displaying a walking figure when it’s green, still counting down and flashing. When it’s red, I stand straight. Everything has changed, but I am still at the same intersection, waiting for the passage of time, waiting for the crowd to return.

I don’t know that high up in the building across from me, there is someone watching me through the window.

He is a traffic light. Every day, I spend some time meditating and daydreaming in front of my bedroom window, looking at him on the street, unnoticed by others.

On this road, every day, many pedestrians and vehicles come and go, back and forth, and this traffic light seems to stand there forever.

He’s always there, telling people when to go and when to stop.

Sometimes I watch him and the flowers, plants, and trees on the rooftops across from him. I can tell if today is windy, slightly breezy, or calm. On rainy days, many raindrops fall on his face, but he doesn’t mind and continues his work silently. On sunny days, the sunlight shines on him, and occasionally a cat leans against him to enjoy a sunbath, resting for a moment at his feet, rubbing its fur against his legs before leaving. I can feel that he is warm at that moment.

I like his independent and carefree appearance.

He looks at the trees across the street, watching them add another ring year after year. He sees everything under the sun and rain, but no one will wipe the raindrops off for him, nor does anyone care if the car exhaust fumes bother him.

Behind him is a bank, with two stone lions at its entrance. They seem to be together, yet they may have never conversed or even looked at each other.

Maybe he and the streetlight are confidants, or maybe they are not.

Today there’s not a single person, no sound of cars roaring.

The breath of life has disappeared, and he doesn’t know what has happened to the city. The city has stopped, and time seems to have stood still. I look at him and feel like crying, crying over a traffic light. Why, you ask? I think I can feel his loneliness. Human beings, in their solitary existence, are ultimately independent entities. Just like him, amidst the coming and going of people, he just stands there. Guarding his intersection, watching over his zebra crossing, he can’t hold onto anyone, nor can he follow anyone.

Life is like that, always facing one traffic light after another. Sometimes you have to go, sometimes you have to wait, sometimes you need to quicken your steps… Sometimes a crowd waits with you, sometimes you wait alone. Just like the scenery outside your window, you are together, yet not together.

Loneliness. Solitude. Helplessness.

Desolation. Persistence. Waiting.

In such a state, it’s normal to feel this way, isn’t it?


I look at him, believing he can hear my thoughts.

He still doesn’t stop at his own pace, repeating his day-to-day work. How many people can be as dedicated and responsible as he is?

He doesn’t know what has happened. Just like he will never know that someone like me is paying attention to him.


I know you are reading this article.

I don’t know what you are thinking.



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